The Thurman-Zumwalt Foundation (TZF) is incorporated in the State of North Carolina as a charitable and scientific organisation and has IRS Code section 501(c)(3) status; it supports biomedical research into infectious and toxic agents with a view toward:

  • protecting those exposed to risk by serving in unfamiliar environments, e.g. members of the military, the Red Cross, the Peace Corps and other aid agencies
  • addressing concerns of those previously exposed to harmful agents, e.g. veterans
  • providing independent and impartial evidence about such risks
  • training associated researchers and health support personnel

What are these risks?
What kind of research will be supported?
How and where will the research be carried out?
Why the Thurman-Zumwalt Foundation?


What are these risks?

Current and foreseeable global economic and political developments will sustain and likely increase the need for specific deployments of both our Armed Forces and Aid Agencies. There will, therefore, be increased exposure to endemic infectious diseases and, in extreme circumstances, possible exposure to novel biological agents and toxins. Efforts to protect the welfare of those serving overseas will also safeguard the home population from associated risks such as involuntary "importation" of exotic agents or deliberate acts of terrorism.
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What kind of research will be supported?

In addition to supporting laboratory research projects, the TZF will facilitate and sponsor appropriate meetings addressing key issues.

The TZF recognizes as a high priority the development of vaccines and treatments based on a better understanding of how microbes cause disease. In addition to biological toxins, research will focus on chemical toxins, e.g. nerve gases, with emphasis on the need for early detection and diagnosis, improved treatments and better protective clothing. Studies will not be restricted to present and future risks but will also address unresolved issues relating to previous exposure, e.g. Gulf War illnesses.

The eventual research portfolio of the TZF will necessarily be broad; however, two areas of current concern have been identified for early support.

  • Microbial and Parasitic Diseases. Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea, dysentery) caused by infectious agents (bacteria, viruses) have long been and remain a scourge for the military overseas; they were the leading cause of illness amongst US troops in the Gulf War. Some bacterial agents involved (e.g., E. coli and Shigella) are well known, but effective vaccines have yet to be developed. Malaria and dengue fever, among other diseases, remain major threats to health of Americans deployed overseas on military or humanitarian missions. The possible untoward effects of multiple vaccinations, given over a short period of time, requires immediate study to protect against possible autoimmune reactions in recipients. The TZF is mindful that significant progress in the area of controlling microbial and parasitic diseases will likely have the potential to benefit significantly the populations in the countries where they are endemic.

  • Toxicological Interactions. Exposure to multiple agents, chemicals, drugs, vaccines, is a fact of modern troop deployment. Data are now beginning to emerge that such agents, individually harmless, in combination may cause harmful effects. Multiple vaccinations using different vaccines, some of them new, have come under suspicion. Animal studies have indicated previously unsuspected harmful interactions between chemical agents used for protective purposes, e.g. combined use of anti-nerve gas agents and insecticides. Stress is also recognized as an "agent" modifying normal body functions.
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How and where will the research be carried out?

Addressing the foregoing questions will require expertise based on a wide range of disciplines: microbiology, genomics, toxicology, materials science, engineering, remote sensing, textiles, epidemiology and public health. Together they exceed the resources of any individual institution. The research supported by the TZF will therefore be carried out by scientists from universities and research institutes collaborating as participants in a "virtual" institute. This approach will be coordinated centrally and allow the focusing of a unique combination of skills. Initially it is proposed to focus research projects in the departments and centers of the internationally recognized "Triangle" universities in North Carolina: NC State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. Thereafter, other US and international universities will be recruited to participate according to their expertise.

The "Institute's" Advisory Council includes two members of the National Academy of Sciences, four members of the Institute of Medicine, as well as senior representatives from both the military and the pharmaceutical industry.
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Why the Thurman-Zumwalt Foundation?

Biomedical science is progressing rapidly and holds great promise. In large part the promise of new treatments and cures for disease risks that we all face require enormous investment in biomedical research. The TZF has been established to ensure that appropriate attention is given to the health risks faced, on our behalf, by those defending the nation and fulfilling its humanitarian obligations.

The TZF is named after U.S. Army General Maxwell R. Thurman and Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. (biographical details attached). Both men served their country, and those who served under them, with integrity and vision and it is these attributes that we intend will characterize the research commissioned and supported by the TZF.
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About Gen. Thurman


About Adm. Zumwalt

 
 
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